Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Who's Coming For Dinner?

We played a little game yesterday. The conversation had evolved to a discussion about ideal or dream guests for dinner. You know the game ... which 6 persons you would love to have for dinner?

The usual pontification and revelations unfolded till one of us pushed the envelop further. We were challenged to pick anyone that passed as an ideal dinner guest and explain why.
So you pick a total stranger, based on immediate first impressions and ponder on your choice. Highly diverting and it became an engrossing game that really told a lot about each of us at the table.

It was no surprise to everyone that I would make the kookiest choices but it surprised me how some of these close friends made decisions that seemed ... close-minded.

There was a young bloke with long dreads, bandana, a T that said Free Your Mind but Watch Your Wallet, and carried a yoga mat with a guitar case. I thought everyone would pick him as an interesting dinner guest but instead there were comments of not messing with hippies or street people.

I was stunned. Look carefully at the young man. HIs clothes are clean and immaculate. His shoes are Reeboks. His nails are clean and carefully manicured. His nose stud is a diamond. His T-shirt tells you he considers his financial situation carefully even as he tries to be different. His eyes shows his intelligence and curiosity. His walk is confident and steady yet with an eager spring. How is this boy a hippie or a street person?

Did my friends just see his dreads and studs and immediately consigned him to a pigeon-hole without looking beyond? It disturbed me as these are people I would invite to dinner too.

So I went back and looked at a number of pictures and tested myself on my own snap decisions to uncover any hidden prejudices and bias that have no basis on fact or reality. It was an interesting experiment.

I scanned a bunch of photos of total strangers. Which ones would I invite to dinner just based on a static picture? And here was the top contender. Someone called Sven.

Why? Because he looks interesting and hints at oxymorons and surprises that belie the eye. 

And it was serendipitous that the photographer captioned this photo as ".. lest we be judged ourselves".